Drink-drivers who kill face 10 years

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The Independent Online
MOTORISTS who kill while driving dangerously or under the influence of drink could be jailed for up to 10 years under a doubling of the present maximum sentences planned by Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary.

Responding to a mounting public outcry about the perceived leniency of some sentences, Mr Clarke said that the current five-year maximum did not allow the courts adequately to reflect the seriousness of the worst cases.

'Those whose dangerous or drunk-driving has resulted in the tragic waste of another human life deserve to be punished accordingly,' he said in a written Commons answer.

A 10-year maximum was advocated last month by Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice. In May there were angry protests when Lord Taylor and two Court of Appeal judges refused to increase a three-year sentence on a driver who killed two teenagers.

Mr Clarke's announcement covers two offences, causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs. The change will require legislation and is likely to be the subject of a short Bill later in the current session.

The Government has already doubled the sentence for driving while under the influence of drink to up to five years' imprisonment, and at least two years' disqualification as public attitudes to drink-driving have hardened.

According to the Department of Transport, 72 per cent of the public think drink-drivers should be jailed, compared to 26 per cent in 1979.

Figures released this week as the Government launched its summer campaign to persuade drivers to stay sober show a sharp decrease in the number of deaths related to drink-driving. About 700 people were killed in 1991, compared to 820 the year before and 1,800 in 1979.